Colour correcting Blackmagic Cinema Camera RAW footage in Final Cut Pro X

colour correcting blackmagic cinema camera

**Updated with every stock FCPX look***

Blackmagic Design have released five free RAW shots that were taken on their new unreleased 2.5K Cinema Camera. Our Forum readers have already started posting their grades of the footage from FCPX, so we thought why not put their results on the frontpage.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera created a huge buzz at NAB in April when it was first presented to the Press. We're not too far away from the shipping date now so Blackmagic decided to post RAW demo footage so that us editors, graders and colourists could 'experiment' with the files from the new camera.

The files, stills from BTS and good explanations of each shot are all on the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera Forum Section and were kindly published by John Brawley. Well worth a read as you know it won't be long before you get a Director turning up with SSDs full of the RAW files.

Onto our Forum and readers have been busy, we have examples of grading the footage in FCPX from three readers. This is also a good opportunity for any other readers to post their grades in the Forum too, we know there are some guys who know their colour so it will be interesting to see what they can do.

Let's start off with Braden Storrs who writes under 'thefcpxeditor' handle.

"To get the most latitude when grading this footage you need to use the Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Application, Photoshop, or something of that nature. In this test though I thought I would give the footage more of a challenge and did all grading in Final Cut Pro X."

 

Workflow:

1.) Opened Final Cut Pro X and created a New Event and Project for the test (Option+N, Command+N).
2.) Imported the DNG's into the test Event
3.) Put all the photos (as they come in as individual photos) into the timeline (Command+A then E to append) and set the duration for all of them to one frame (Command+A then Control+D then type in duration).
4.) Selected all photos for a particular shot and Command+G to make each shot a compound clip therefore separating each of the four shots out for editing as a video clip.

Steps one through four took about a minute to do.

5.) Corrected and colored the clips one step at a time as shown in the video. Including the use of Motionvfx.com's mLooks 2 Color Correction Plugins in combination with Final Cut Pro X's Color Board. I can't tell you how much I love the Color and Shape masking abilities that are right there within the program!

6.) Exported 1080P

Also notably, and amazingly, Final Cut Pro X played back the 2.5K footage un-rendered in the 1080P timeline no problem, even with all grades, color and shape masks, and titles applied. Put that on the list of things that make me smile as an editor.

(Tip: If you select a clip or clips and hold option+click and drag and then drop them, before letting go of option, it will duplicate the clips you have selected as well as their settings. I used this to move from one step to another in the video.)

In the end I was very impressed with how clean the footage was as I largely have had to work with DSLR footage. It's a big difference. It held up incredibly well to grading directly in the application. It was very resistent to the normal color noise and artifacting you see when grading DSLR footage. There is some noise in the final low light shot but it is mostly luminance, not color noise. That I can deal with. 

Then onto Rob Mackintosh who writes as RobM.

"I thought I would try bringing in the raw Cinema DNG files from John Brawley's recent shoot into Final Cut Pro X. I have no idea what is going on under the hood, and I'm not suggesting this is the best approach to maximise image quality, but the following workflow produced a reasonable result."

 

Workflow:

Imported files with "Import folders as Keyword Collections" selected.

Selected each keyword collection for the individual shots and created 1080 24p compound clips. Opened up and set duration of the images to 1 frame. Dropped onto a 1080 24p timeline (ProRes 444)

Playback was realtime (playback quality high) off my internal hard drive and even with the grade applied near realtime. Off faster storage and with a newer machine (I'm using a late 2009 iMac) I'd expect good performance.

Used my free effect wvl_RGBbalance to complete a base grade. Nothing fancy here, just trying to balance each shot.

Exported to Vimeo using built-in export, multi-pass enabled.

Before/after screenshots from FCP X available here.

And finally (for the moment) onto Pippin who writes as ptrush.

I took a crack at it as well using Davinci Reslove, I've graded raw footage in the past, and these .DNGs held up very well! Dropped those exported clips into a 422 HQ, FCPX timeline and did a touch of color tweaking there. I also used the Cosmo filter in Magic Bullet for the close ups to smooth her skin just a touch.

 

So there you go, three examples of what can be done with RAW footage from the new Blackmagic camera. More comments and hopefully some more examples over on our Forum. Many thanks to the three guys for taking time to post their grades.

Updated 28/8/12

Just came across this video on Vimeo by Christopher Mayer:

"First shot is a color correction in lightroom 4. The rest are variations with corrections applied with the stock looks and filters in FCPX. Just wanted to see how the stock looks would apply to this footage.'

Shame he didn't put the filter name on each clip, but interesting to see what the stock filters do.

Updated 29/8/2012

Christopher got in contact with us at FCP.co with a new version of the video with descriprions - Thank you!